Innovation. My friend Roderick started me off thinking about it. We met up last weekend at our favourite campsite, and as ever after a few too many post-supper digestifs, we ended up cranking up the computer and looking at the latest wild and wacky tourers and motorhomes on the internet.
We started off looking at the caravans from new American manufacturer Earthbound RV. Maybe it’s the shiny furniture, but they looked like a cross between an oversized Roma and a Stealth to me. You can order yours in bright red, blue, or black. And yes, I am talking about the exterior.
Next stop was German manufacturer Dethleffs, looking at the MA-HOOSIVE Caraliner. I’ve always admired Dethleffs’ styling in the past, especially the über smart Aero Tourist caravans, but the Caraliner concept caravan has to go down as the second-ugliest house brick on wheels that I’ve ever seen. Inside, no expense has been spared either in terms of money or weight. There’s even a dishwasher.
But the piece de resitance, the ugliest and biggest mobile margarine tub by far, was the Visibly Loud Articulated Dream. Even the wheels have been skirted off to give the impression of an imposing, hovering white cube. Inside it looks like something out of a Design Centre with all the comfort and allure of an operating theatre.
Is this really innovation? I don’t think so. Any half-wit can design anything if not constrained by space, weight, or budget. The real innovators, the clever people, are the people who can come up with something comfortable, usable, towable, and affordable. You really don’t need me to tell you about the price of fuel these days. And, while I’m sure that there is still plenty to go around at the moment, oil is a finite resource. Which basically means that fuel is never going to get any cheaper.
Innovation to me is how a manufacturer like Bailey managed to get so much Orion into such a comparatively small space. It’s how Lunar has made its Venus range so light and towable. It’s how Elddis has broken the mould with its adorable little Xplore 302 and 304. It’s how motorhome wizard Stephen Wheeler builds his amazing little Wheelhome motor caravans that are roughly the size of a matchbox when trundling down the motorway yet unfold to become the size of a detached bungalow when on site.
Concept caravans and motorhomes are great to draw the crowds and showcase new ideas that may or may not be brought into production. It can be quite healthy for a designer to think ‘without limits’ for a while, let their mind go mad, and see where it ends up. But essentially the leisure vehicle designer’s job boils down to wrestling with the ever-present dilemma of compromise between cost, weight, and comfort. Design without limits has its uses and its entertainment value for a Saturday night spent with friends in the caravan, but it’s the unsung designers of the everyday, usable leisure vehicles that earn my respect.
- Andrew Ditton has eight years’ experience as Chief Caravan Tester for Caravan Magazine. Click here to view his full profile.
It is very hard to come across as unbiased when you work in the field of caravan insurance but recent reports have prompted us to field a general question to you all:
Can you afford NOT to insure your caravan?
A recent report carried out indicated that a whopping 28% of you DO NOT insure your caravan. We understand insurance in general is widely regarded as a pain and an expensive inconvenience but in times of distress, it becomes one of the most valuable services. If your caravan is stolen, vandalized, accidentally damaged or even if it causes damage to 3rd party vehicle or property, can you afford to pay these costs out of your own pocket? If you can then youre better off than most. You might be thinking that it wont happen to you but weve paid over 200,000 in claims over the 12 months and Im sure every single person who made a claim once thought it would never happen to them.
Insurance covers the what ifs and provides the peace of mind of financial security in the event of a what if occurring. Our typical premium for a 12,000 touring caravan is 277 which in turn provides you with the knowledge that if someone runs off with your caravan, you will not have to swallow a 12,000 financial loss. We at Cover4 provide comprehensive insurance covering almost all eventualities that can occur so whether it be the theft of your caravan or a knock in a car park, you can be assured that we will cover the cost.
Cost is always going to be a factor in any choice you make and we are happy to be able to say that we are among the cheapest in the market, but we also provide excellent cover to go with that price so its no longer a choice of best cover OR best premium, you can now have your cake and eat it!
We have invested a lot of time and money into our online quote and buy system allowing the process of buying insurance to be efficient, informative and clear. You can view our website www.cover4caravans.co.uk, receive a quotation, view all documentation and purchase the policy feeling informed of the cover provided, pleased with the price and confident in your choice.
We also have a team passionate about caravans on hand to answer any enquiries you have on 0800 9707 172. They are happy to talk over any non-standard issues, talk you through any perceived insurance jargon so that you are clear the cover matches your needs and take you through the quotation and purchase of your insurance policy explaining every step of the way.
We believe insurance should provide peace of mind, not inconvenience and we aim to provide that peace of mind.
We hope to speak to you soon
Ford Mondeo has again dominated the Caravan Club Towcar of the Year awards, topping two of the five price categories and coming first overall.
The Ford Mondeo Zetec hatchback was rated the best in the £16,000 to £20,000 class. And judges rated the Ford Mondeo Titanium X Estate best towcar in the £25,000 to £32,000 price range and the Towcar of the Year 2008 overall.
Now running for a quarter of a century, the Caravan Club’s competition was held at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, with 36 towcars from 20 different brands analysed.
Robert Black MBE, chairman of the Caravan Club, said: “Mondeo has been a huge success since its launch in 1993 and the latest car’s performance in this year’s Caravan Club Towcar of the Year competition shows that a good towcar has become even better.
“The Mondeo Titanium X Estate is sure to be a popular towing vehicle with our members.”
The judges said of the Ford Mondeo Titanium X Estate: “Handling is so good that you know exactly what the outfit is doing. Well-weighted steering helps you position the outfit precisely, the brakes are excellent and the six-speed gearbox, as usual in a Ford, is a delight. Add to that a well appointed interior, comfort and an ability to swallow a huge amount of luggage and you have a winning towcar.”
Roelant de Waard, chairman and managing director of Ford, said: “This is a widely respected competition that is very tough to win. We are delighted that The Caravan Club has recognised the new Ford Mondeo’s outstanding all-round abilities, enabling it to come out on top.”
To match a perfect towcar, caravanners need a top notch caravan insurance deal. At Cover4Caravans, we provide caravan insurance premiums from just £65. Click through to get your caravan insurance quote.
People are not put off their caravan holidays by bad weather, as sales of vehicles remain high and bookings at some caravan sites have broken records over September.
Salop Leisure has noticed that sales of caravans and motorhomes have not dropped off despite the rain that blighted the UK summer. Indeed the firm’s chairman Tony Bywater said that more caravanners actually choose to take a caravan holiday in poor weather, as many caravan parks now open beyond the summer months.
Mr Bywater said: “Modern touring caravans, motorhomes and caravan holiday homes offer such quality and luxury that it doesn’t really matter what the weather is like outside.”
He added that he expects a record number of caravanners to visit Salop Leisure’s touring caravan and motorhome show near Shrewsbury this September.
And even despite the disappointing summer, when caravanners may have planned for a bit of sun, Cumbria and the Lake District saw a record number of bookings throughout the tourism industry in August, with reservations in September also looking impressive.
Cumbria Tourism said this August was its busiest ever month, reflecting holidaymakers’ increasing penchant for taking holidays in the UK. Caravanning on British shores is gaining popularity, as people cut down on air travel for environmental reasons.
This news comes after the Met Office reported the highest level of rainfall from April to July since records began.
Yet the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) saw exactly the same number of motorhomes sold during the quarter, compared to the same period last year.
Wherever and whenever you take your caravan holiday, taking out caravan insurance is a must. At Cover4Caravans, we offer low caravan insurance premiums from just £65. And if you do fancy seeing a bit of sun Cover4Carvans offers 240 days per year free in all touring caravan insurance policies.
People in the south of England and the Midlands will have been glad they took out caravan insurance after winds ripped tiles from houses and even managed to flip caravans over.
As many as ten individual tornadoes were recorded in Farnborough, Eye, Luton, Nuneaton, Long Eaton, Northampton, Nottingham, Scunthorpe, Whittlesey and Ollerton.
Although luckily there have been no reports of injuries, trees were uprooted, tiles were pulled off roofs and chimney pots were knocked over.
In Cambridgeshire, a motorist told police of witnessing a car blown across a road by a tornado, while a double-decker school bus lost part of its roof after being struck by a falling branch near Northampton.
The Met Office said that winds were up to speeds of 70mph.
A Farnborough resident told the Guardian: “The entire flat just felt as if it was about to take off – just like in that scene in the Wizard of Oz. The noise was absolutely tremendous. I thought that the windows were about to come crashing in.
“The devastation is unbelievable. Slates, bus shelters, all just blown everywhere.”
Tony Bing reported seeing a bus shelter destroyed and a caravan overturned by the raging winds.
Seventy-three-year-old Brian Denton confirmed that he awoke to find that his caravan had been flipped over and on his street around 30 houses were damaged by the tornado.